484 A LEAF FROM THE SKY
could not exhaust. With pious gratitude the girl looked on this beautiful work of the Creator, and bent down one of the branches towards herself to breathe its sweetness ; and a light arose in her soul. It seemed to do her heart good; and gladly would she have plucked a flower, but she could not make up her mind to break one off, for it would soon fade if she did so. Therefore the girl only took a single leaf, and laid it in her Bible at home ; and it lay there quite fresh, always green, and never fading.
Among the pages of the Bible it was kept; and, with the Bible, it was laid under the young girl's head when, a few weeks afterwards, she lay in her coffin, with the solemn calm of death on her gentle face, as if the earthly remains bore the impress of the truth that she now stood before her Creator.
But the wonderful plant still bloomed without in the forest. Soon it was like a tree to look upon ; and all the birds of passage bowed before it, especially the swallow and the stork.
' These are foreign airs now,' said the Thistles and the Burdocks ; ' we never behave like that here.'
And the black snails actually spat at the flower.
Then came the swineherd. He was collecting thistles and shrubs, to burn them for the ashes. The wonderful plant was pulled up with all its roots and placed in his bundle.
' It shall be made useful,' he said ; and so said, so done.
But for more than a year and a day, the King of the country was troubled with a terrible depression of spirits. He was busy and industrious, but that did him no good. They read him deep and learned books, and then they read from the very lightest that they could find ; but it was of no use. Then one of the wise men of the world, to whom they had applied, sent a messenger to tell the King that there was one remedy to give him relief and to cure him. He said:
' In the King's own country there grows in a forest a plant of heavenly origin. Its appearance is thus and thus. It cannot be mistaken.' And here was added a drawing of the plant, which was easy to recognize. ' It remains green winter and summer. Take every evening a fresh leaf of it, and lay that on the King's forehead ; then his thoughts